The definitive guide for helping you find the best sailing kayak out there.
So here’s the deal:
The best sailing kayak seems like an elusive idea, and with so many different kayak sail types out there, it may be hard to determine which ones to consider are worth your time and effort, and which ones to avoid like the plague.
But luckily, that’s where this post comes in; to act as a guide for helping you determine which sailing kayaks to consider, and how to go about choosing the right kayak wind sail. We’ll also be telling you exactly what you need to be on the lookout for once you do decide to start shopping around, and then we’ll also be sharing our 2-cents by reviewing 3 of the top scoring sail kayak products the market currently has on offer!
Sailing Kayaks 101
The sailing kayaks we know today are all a little Polynesian (born from the idea of outrigger canoe ailing) as well as British. As such, the hybrid kayak subspecies has ensured that the market is now booming with choices ranging from simple inverted triangle sails all the way through all-inclusive, high-aspect ratio sails for kayaks. If you’re considering entering the world of kayak sailing you basically have two very simple choices: either buy a standard kayak and ten rig it out to convert it to a sailable vessel, or just by the whole enchilada, both of which options have their own unique problems an advantages.
Why Adding Sails to a Kayak is Advantageous
When you purchase the gear you’ll need in order to build your own sailing kayak, you’ll have the opportunity of personalizing and modifying your kayak exactly to your liking. You can use a kayak that offers you the most comfort and safety, and then simply go ahead and purchase a sail rig that compliments your vessel.
But Here’s Why You Should Probably Buy a Rigged Sailing Kayak
If you choose to go ahead and purchase a fully rigged sailing kayak, you may be able to avoid the issue of having sails that might not be compatible with your kayak. You’ll also get all you need from one single source, in one trip. Be warned that these kayaks (ahem…compatibility) does come at a high price, and purchasing a rigged kayak will cost you considerably more than just buying the sails.
The Deal With High-or-Low Performance Sail Rigs
Once you’ve settled down with either a sailing rig that you’ll fit to your kayak, or you’ve decided on purchasing the fully-rigged kayak from the get go, you’ll still have to sit down and decide whether you’re going to opt for high or low performance sail rigs. High performance sails are great for folks that prefer fast-paced sailing and even those that need to cross large bodies of water on a frequent basis.
High-performance rigs are heavy, they’re NOT easy to install and you’ll need some serious know-how to properly handle them. Oh, they’re also super expensive when compared to low-performance sail rigs. Low-performance rigs are perfect for those of you that need something lighter, simpler to set up and use, and much more affordable than high-performance sailing kayak rigs.
How To Pick a Great Sailing Kayak
We get that most of us all have different tastes and preferences, but when it comes to kayaking, us paddlers generally like to get together and share out thoughts, lend a helping hand to those who might just be starting out their kayaking journey. That being said, here’s what a good sailing kayak should look like…
- Width should be on point – which should be no less than 24 inches wide, although you can push this up to 30 inches, but no more than that.
- Ideal Rocker is a big deal – your sailing kayak shouldn’t have too much rocker, which is the degree of hull curvature from the kayak’s bow to its stern. Sure, more rocker may improve maneuverability, but it may also set off tracking.
- It should have a keel strip – which will add some extra stability to your kayak.
- It has to feature at least one rudder – beginners don’t actually need rudders, but these are not only nice-to-have, they are essential over the long run.
- It should have a supportive and comfy cockpit. If you’re going to control the kayak at optimum levels, this is crucial, and so is a good high back seat with a low center of gravity.
Top 3 Sailing Kayak Sails of 2017
We’ve tried and tested (and found them seriously tempting) 3 of the markets best sails for kayaks and kayaks with sails, and we’re happy to share our experiences with you so that you’re able to use this information as a hands-on guide to help you make the most informed decision regarding a sailing kayak.
Best Sailing Kayak
1. Pacific Action Sails
Best known for their 2-pound inverted-V sails, the guys from Pacific Action honestly make some of the world’s best Polynesian-imitation sails for kayaks these days. Their sails are super simple and very easy to use. They consist mainly of 2 twin composite masts, which join at the bottom of a V shape to become a flexible mast foot, which also straps to the kayak with an effortless buckle system.
- Sails are made from simple ripstop nylon
- They’re easy to use and maintain
- Sails can be installed on your kayak quickly and easily, even on the water
- The sail will not interfere with paddling even in the lowered position
- Comes available in three different sizes; 1-meter, 1.5-meter and 2.2-meter
- The PA sails can only be installed on kayaks that have rudder options
- These sails are not cheap, usually tipping the scales at around $300 a shot
2. Spirit Sails
Spirit Sails is another great brand of inverted-V sails, and they’re Canadian made and feature some amazingly simple design and performance aspects. With no lines in the designs of these sails, they’re freestanding attaching only to the bow of the kayak’s locking bases. These sails make use of suction cups for installation where strap-on versions are available, but if your kayak doesn’t have a smooth surface, it might not be ideal. If you’re a fan of downwind sailing, you don’t like any lines in your sails, and you plan on raising and lowering the sails on land or in calm wind conditions, this might be an excellent choice for you.
- Very simple design
- Easy to set up and take down
- The sails are very lightweight and won’t interrupt your paddling
- Provides a fast a smooth sailing experience
- The suction cup sails might not be ideal unless you have a perfectly smooth surface to work with
- Best used for downwind sail, making it a bad choice or upwind sailing
- Doesn’t allow a beam reach of 90° or even 45°
3. EasyRider Sails
Coming in as our third most-loved kayak sails are the ow-performance sails from EasyRider Kayaks. One of their sails is a downwind spinnaker and the other is a reaching spinnaker. The downwind sail is good for downwind sailing only, and the second one will help you reach high speeds across the wind. These sails are made using modern designs, Marconi or Bermuda rigging, placing the widest part of the sails at the bottom part of the triangles.
- The sails are lightweight and easy to attach
- When you combine the two sails on offer, you can sail downwind and gain reach
- These sails offer safe sails even with high winds
- The sails are affordable
- Both sails have limited abilities, offering only downwind or reaching capabilities
- When using both sails at once, one of them will have to be lowered to use the other
As you can see, there are quite a few different options when it comes to rigging out your kayak with a good sail. Our clear winner of this roundup is the Pacific Action Sails, simply because they offer the best value for money and they’re super versatile. They’re also able to help you take on downwind sailing and can be used equally as effortless for reaching over windy waters. We hope that this post has armed you with all the information you’ll need in order to make the best decision when it’s time to invest in a quality sail for rigging your kayak!